- Running time:
- 104 minutes
- Julianne Moore -
- Annette Bening -
- Mark Ruffalo -
- Mia Wasikowska -
- Josh Hutcherson -
Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a happily committed lesbian couple raising two smart, promising teenagers—Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). But when the kids decide it’s time to find their biological father—easygoing single guy Paul (Mark Ruffalo)—they embark on a journey that turns this modern family upside down.
The buzz: Warmly received in its world premiere at this year’s Sundance film festival, “The Kids Are All Right” marks a big screen comeback for director and co-writer Lisa Cholodenko. She made a splashy indie debut with lesbian drama “High Art” in 1998, but has only had one theatrical release since—2002’s underwhelming “Laurel Canyon.” With Oscar buzz already surrounding this film and the performances of Bening, Moore and Ruffalo, Cholodenko shouldn’t worry about flying under the radar this time out.
The verdict: A breath of fresh air in a stale summer, “The Kids Are All Right” represents the best of a recent crop of character-based indie comedies with mainstream appeal (already highlighted by “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Juno” and “(500) Days of Summer”). Cholodenko takes a ridiculously obvious concept—gay parents, their kids and a biological parent on the outside—and executes it brilliantly in a film that’s smart, touching, impeccably acted and very funny. Try not to read too many details about how the story develops before you see it (even the trailer gives away a little too much). Just expect a human comedy about relationships that haven’t been fully explored on film before, told in a fashion that ensures tenderness trumps self-importance at every turn. Bening, Moore and Ruffalo earn their Oscar hype with finely detailed performances that only bolster their already impressive resumes, while younger co-stars Wasikowska, Hutcherson and Yaya DaCosta deliver strong moments in smaller roles. It’s easy to imagine alternate versions of this story that might have played too preachy, melodramatic or wacky. Instead we’re lucky enough to get a heartfelt film that succeeds first and foremost as entertainment.
Did you know? Cholodenko and her co-writer, Stuart Blumberg, both have personal connections with the material. Cholodenko and her partner Wendy Melvoin used an anonymous sperm donor to have their son, and Blumberg was a sperm donor himself in college.
Movie theaters and showtimes for The Kids Are All Right in Des Moines.
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